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I Finished the 2014 BITD Vegas to Reno dead last, and I have never been happier

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Number 1 item on my bucket list was always to compete and finish a desert race on a bike, so I entered this years Vegas to Reno, the longest off road race in the US. It was 534 miles of the nastiest terrain I have ever ridden. I built my 2012 CRF450X bike up for the race with the help from Johnny Campbell Racing who were more than happy to advise me on how to set the bike up, and all the parts I'll need to buy for it. My goal was to do the race in 14 hours, averaging just under 40 mph. I did it in 24 hours, 42 minutes, 11 seconds. I was physically prepared, been conditioning and training, was in the best physical shape of my life since my teenage years. I was NOT prepared for the mental factor of night racing (I'll get to that later). My only goal was to simply finish the race. If I beat any other riders, then that is just extra credit.  

 

The race started in Beatty, NV. First bikes left the line at 545 AM, I left a little bit after 6 AM in the Ironman Amateur class, race number 075. The first 280 miles were an absolute blast to race. Lots of wide open, very fast areas that you can really wind the bike out and hit rolling hills to catch some air off of. Seeing photographers coming up also makes you want to go faster. At 280 miles in we were at pit 8, this was the first time I actually took a break, a breather, got some protein bars in my system. Up until then it was just gas and water at each pit, I didn't want to slow down I was having so much fun. I actually over-hydrated myself and had to piss so bad, but didn't want to stop because everyone was still clustered up early on. So I ended up peeing in my riding gear going about 70 MPH down a dusty road standing up, that was  a whole new experience for me. By this point I was feeling good. I had found my groove and was pacing myself to finish in about 16 hours if I could keep going at the same average speeds. This was the pit we also got word that some of the trucks were getting close, Jason Voss was about 30-45 minutes behind us. 

 

Voss passed me around race mile 300, and I didn't see another truck or class 1 buggy for at least a half hour, that's how big of a lead that guy had on everyone. 

 

My next stop was at pit 10, race mile 334. This was the start of the serious silt beds. As I took off I could hear the thunder from A LOT of trucks and buggies coming up behind me. They were spaced out just enough to where I couldn't ride the silt beds because they would run me over. Their 37" tall tires made ruts so deep in the silt that your handlebars touch the sides of the race course. Myself and 2 other bikes ended up making our own path about 10 feet to the side of the course just so we could continue on. It was that or sit there and wait for 2 hours to let all the trucks go by. 

 

Pit 12, 387 miles in, was when the sun went down, and the first real problem with my bike developed. The front forks damn near stopped working, felt like they only had 1 inch of travel. My arms took a beating to the point where I thought they were broken.I tried to get some food in my stomach but I could barely chew it, and it didn't even stay down. Puked it right back up. I knew this was going to be a tough section because I could see the buggies and trucks going slow up the mountain, not to mention it was pitch black. The first 6 miles after pit 12 was an uphill mountain climb of nothing but rocks. Since the trucks had already been through it, it was nothing but whooped out rock sections. It took me an hour to go that 6 miles to the top. 

 

I reached pit 13 around 1am, 431 miles in. Baja Pits gave me some popsicles to eat, and it was the most relieving meal I had the whole race. This was the part where the mental factor really took it's toll. I was riding for hours on end in the darkest of night without seeing another racer, either off to the side or someone passing me, and I began hallucinating. Every cactus I saw looked like a person. I constantly thought I saw lights and heard engines coming up behind me. Was looking over my shoulder every 2 minutes, at least. I'd stop, shut the bike off, and realize it was dead silent, not one person was around me for a long distance. This made me right smarter. The fear of getting hurt in the middle of no where and not knowing how long help could be away. Also rabbits and coyotes LOVE LED lights. They run out in the middle of the course, do a 360, then run off the course. There were A LOT that did not make it back to the side of the course.

 

By pit 14, 457 miles in, I was literally blowing bubbles and not making sense when I talked. My hands and arms were damn near completely numb. My chase crew, comprised of my wife and my friend Jeff (Jeff has more experience in Baja and desert racing that almost anyone I know), were talking me up, keeping my head straight. I later found out that they wished I had quit at this point because I was so out of it. They told me after as well that they watched 5 other bikes call it quits at pit 14 as well. My adrenaline was still pumping and I was still going, and still hallucinating. Pit 15, last pit, came and went with a splash of gas and some more water, I was determined to the hit the finish line and ride under the RedBull arch. 

 

They warned us the day before that the first and last 20 miles are a shit show, due to being washed out from the rain storms. I didn't think the first 20 were all that bad, the last 20 damn near killed me. It was 20 miles of 1st gear riding through a damn boulder field. I had to stop, look at the rocks and plan a route through them, and it was still pitch black during this. I finally made it through without falling, and met my wife and friend at the finish line. I was so exhausted they had to help me off the bike. I couldn't even take my gear off, they had to do it for me. I was told that I was the last bike on the course, not another bike was left out there. When Casey Folks handed me that finishers pin and congratulated me, I started to tear up, because I now knew I had done what most thought was impossible. I had just finished the longest off road race in the US. I finished 4th in class out of 14 riders (only 4 finished), 73rd for the bikes, quads, UTVs out 126 (only 73 finished). The next bike in front of me finished nearly 7 hours early. 

 

 

 

 

Edited by RyGuy85
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nice job man! be sure to cut up some of that footage!  what ended up being the problem with the forks? any other mechanical problems? flats?

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nice job man! be sure to cut up some of that footage! what ended up being the problem with the forks? any other mechanical problems? flats?

Haven't been able to diagnose the front forks issue. They may have been over torqued and ovaled. No flats. Ran Mousse Bibs in front and rear. I'm more amazed that I didn't crack or bend a wheel to shit with how many rocks I bounces off of

Also in the first half I only crashed twice. Second half I crashed about 20 times

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Number 1 item on my bucket list was always to compete and finish a desert race on a bike, so I entered this years Vegas to Reno, the longest off road race in the US. It was 534 miles of the nastiest terrain I have ever ridden. I built my 2012 CRF450X bike up for the race with the help from Johnny Campbell Racing who were more than happy to advise me on how to set the bike up, and all the parts I'll need to buy for it. My goal was to do the race in 14 hours, averaging just under 40 mph. I did it in 24 hours, 42 minutes, 11 seconds. I was physically prepared, been conditioning and training, was in the best physical shape of my life since my teenage years. I was NOT prepared for the mental factor of night racing (I'll get to that later). My only goal was to simply finish the race. If I beat any other riders, then that is just extra credit.  

 

The race started in Beatty, NV. First bikes left the line at 545 AM, I left a little bit after 6 AM in the Ironman Amateur class, race number 075. The first 280 miles were an absolute blast to race. Lots of wide open, very fast areas that you can really wind the bike out and hit rolling hills to catch some air off of. Seeing photographers coming up also makes you want to go faster. At 280 miles in we were at pit 8, this was the first time I actually took a break, a breather, got some protein bars in my system. Up until then it was just gas and water at each pit, I didn't want to slow down I was having so much fun. I actually over-hydrated myself and had to piss so bad, but didn't want to stop because everyone was still clustered up early on. So I ended up peeing in my riding gear going about 70 MPH down a dusty road standing up, that was  a whole new experience for me. By this point I was feeling good. I had found my groove and was pacing myself to finish in about 16 hours if I could keep going at the same average speeds. This was the pit we also got word that some of the trucks were getting close, Jason Voss was about 30-45 minutes behind us. 

 

Voss passed me around race mile 300, and I didn't see another truck or class 1 buggy for at least a half hour, that's how big of a lead that guy had on everyone. 

 

My next stop was at pit 10, race mile 334. This was the start of the serious silt beds. As I took off I could hear the thunder from A LOT of trucks and buggies coming up behind me. They were spaced out just enough to where I couldn't ride the silt beds because they would run me over. Their 37" tall tires made ruts so deep in the silt that your handlebars touch the sides of the race course. Myself and 2 other bikes ended up making our own path about 10 feet to the side of the course just so we could continue on. It was that or sit there and wait for 2 hours to let all the trucks go by. 

 

Pit 12, 387 miles in, was when the sun went down, and the first real problem with my bike developed. The front forks damn near stopped working, felt like they only had 1 inch of travel. My arms took a beating to the point where I thought they were broken.I tried to get some food in my stomach but I could barely chew it, and it didn't even stay down. Puked it right back up. I knew this was going to be a tough section because I could see the buggies and trucks going slow up the mountain, not to mention it was pitch black. The first 6 miles after pit 12 was an uphill mountain climb of nothing but rocks. Since the trucks had already been through it, it was nothing but whooped out rock sections. It took me an hour to go that 6 miles to the top. 

 

I reached pit 13 around 1am, 431 miles in. Baja Pits gave me some popsicles to eat, and it was the most relieving meal I had the whole race. This was the part where the mental factor really took it's toll. I was riding for hours on end in the darkest of night without seeing another racer, either off to the side or someone passing me, and I began hallucinating. Every cactus I saw looked like a person. I constantly thought I saw lights and heard engines coming up behind me. Was looking over my shoulder every 2 minutes, at least. I'd stop, shut the bike off, and realize it was dead silent, not one person was around me for a long distance. This made me right smarter. The fear of getting hurt in the middle of no where and not knowing how long help could be away. Also rabbits and coyotes LOVE LED lights. They run out in the middle of the course, do a 360, then run off the course. There were A LOT that did not make it back to the side of the course.

 

By pit 14, 457 miles in, I was literally blowing bubbles and not making sense when I talked. My hands and arms were damn near completely numb. My chase crew, comprised of my wife and my friend Jeff (Jeff has more experience in Baja and desert racing that almost anyone I know), were talking me up, keeping my head straight. I later found out that they wished I had quit at this point because I was so out of it. They told me after as well that they watched 5 other bikes call it quits at pit 14 as well. My adrenaline was still pumping and I was still going, and still hallucinating. Pit 15, last pit, came and went with a splash of gas and some more water, I was determined to the hit the finish line and ride under the RedBull arch. 

 

They warned us the day before that the first and last 20 miles are a shit show, due to being washed out from the rain storms. I didn't think the first 20 were all that bad, the last 20 damn near killed me. It was 20 miles of 1st gear riding through a damn boulder field. I had to stop, look at the rocks and plan a route through them, and it was still pitch black during this. I finally made it through without falling, and met my wife and friend at the finish line. I was so exhausted they had to help me off the bike. I couldn't even take my gear off, they had to do it for me. I was told that I was the last bike on the course, not another bike was left out there. When Casey Folks handed me that finishers pin and congratulated me, I started to tear up, because I now knew I had done what most thought was impossible. I had just finished the longest off road race in the US. I finished 4th in class out of 14 riders (only 4 finished), 73rd for the bikes, quads, UTVs out 126 (only 73 finished). The next bike in front of me finished nearly 7 hours early.

congrats man, so the quiet zone freaked you out! LOL Funny the games exhaustion and the mind can play on you. Great job again!
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You are making me want to try this. I would love to say I finished this.

DO IT! I always wanted to do the Baja 1000 thanks to Dust to Glory but it just cost so damn much. This race was a great alternative. $450 to enter. $50 membership. $95 transponder. $540 Baja Pit fees. The rest is up to you and how much you wanna spend. I wanted to make sure my bike was gonna make it so I invested A LOT into building it up right.
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The quiet zone will seriously mess with your head. I was riding with ear plugs for the first half but when I was told the trucks were coming I took them out so I could hear the trucks better. All you hear is the drone of your engine for hours and hours

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DO IT! I always wanted to do the Baja 1000 thanks to Dust to Glory but it just cost so damn much. This race was a great alternative. $450 to enter. $50 membership. $95 transponder. $540 Baja Pit fees. The rest is up to you and how much you wanna spend. I wanted to make sure my bike was gonna make it so I invested A LOT into building it up right.

 

I just bought a bike from a guy who was gonna race with you out there, but he broke his shoulder jumping motocross.  The first thought he had was, "Oh no I can't do Vegas to Reno!!!"

 

Racing this event would be a blast, but I live in TX and no one here is familiar with desert racing.  I raced desert in Cali, so I know what I would be up against.  Doing the Ironman thing would be a killer accomplishment.  Awesome job.

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Number 1 item on my bucket list was always to compete and finish a desert race on a bike, so I entered this years Vegas to Reno, the longest off road race in the US. It was 534 miles of the nastiest terrain I have ever ridden. I built my 2012 CRF450X bike up for the race with the help from Johnny Campbell Racing who were more than happy to advise me on how to set the bike up, and all the parts I'll need to buy for it. My goal was to do the race in 14 hours, averaging just under 40 mph. I did it in 24 hours, 42 minutes, 11 seconds. I was physically prepared, been conditioning and training, was in the best physical shape of my life since my teenage years. I was NOT prepared for the mental factor of night racing (I'll get to that later). My only goal was to simply finish the race. If I beat any other riders, then that is just extra credit.  

 

The race started in Beatty, NV. First bikes left the line at 545 AM, I left a little bit after 6 AM in the Ironman Amateur class, race number 075. The first 280 miles were an absolute blast to race. Lots of wide open, very fast areas that you can really wind the bike out and hit rolling hills to catch some air off of. Seeing photographers coming up also makes you want to go faster. At 280 miles in we were at pit 8, this was the first time I actually took a break, a breather, got some protein bars in my system. Up until then it was just gas and water at each pit, I didn't want to slow down I was having so much fun. I actually over-hydrated myself and had to piss so bad, but didn't want to stop because everyone was still clustered up early on. So I ended up peeing in my riding gear going about 70 MPH down a dusty road standing up, that was  a whole new experience for me. By this point I was feeling good. I had found my groove and was pacing myself to finish in about 16 hours if I could keep going at the same average speeds. This was the pit we also got word that some of the trucks were getting close, Jason Voss was about 30-45 minutes behind us. 

 

Voss passed me around race mile 300, and I didn't see another truck or class 1 buggy for at least a half hour, that's how big of a lead that guy had on everyone. 

 

My next stop was at pit 10, race mile 334. This was the start of the serious silt beds. As I took off I could hear the thunder from A LOT of trucks and buggies coming up behind me. They were spaced out just enough to where I couldn't ride the silt beds because they would run me over. Their 37" tall tires made ruts so deep in the silt that your handlebars touch the sides of the race course. Myself and 2 other bikes ended up making our own path about 10 feet to the side of the course just so we could continue on. It was that or sit there and wait for 2 hours to let all the trucks go by. 

 

Pit 12, 387 miles in, was when the sun went down, and the first real problem with my bike developed. The front forks damn near stopped working, felt like they only had 1 inch of travel. My arms took a beating to the point where I thought they were broken.I tried to get some food in my stomach but I could barely chew it, and it didn't even stay down. Puked it right back up. I knew this was going to be a tough section because I could see the buggies and trucks going slow up the mountain, not to mention it was pitch black. The first 6 miles after pit 12 was an uphill mountain climb of nothing but rocks. Since the trucks had already been through it, it was nothing but whooped out rock sections. It took me an hour to go that 6 miles to the top. 

 

I reached pit 13 around 1am, 431 miles in. Baja Pits gave me some popsicles to eat, and it was the most relieving meal I had the whole race. This was the part where the mental factor really took it's toll. I was riding for hours on end in the darkest of night without seeing another racer, either off to the side or someone passing me, and I began hallucinating. Every cactus I saw looked like a person. I constantly thought I saw lights and heard engines coming up behind me. Was looking over my shoulder every 2 minutes, at least. I'd stop, shut the bike off, and realize it was dead silent, not one person was around me for a long distance. This made me right smarter. The fear of getting hurt in the middle of no where and not knowing how long help could be away. Also rabbits and coyotes LOVE LED lights. They run out in the middle of the course, do a 360, then run off the course. There were A LOT that did not make it back to the side of the course.

 

By pit 14, 457 miles in, I was literally blowing bubbles and not making sense when I talked. My hands and arms were damn near completely numb. My chase crew, comprised of my wife and my friend Jeff (Jeff has more experience in Baja and desert racing that almost anyone I know), were talking me up, keeping my head straight. I later found out that they wished I had quit at this point because I was so out of it. They told me after as well that they watched 5 other bikes call it quits at pit 14 as well. My adrenaline was still pumping and I was still going, and still hallucinating. Pit 15, last pit, came and went with a splash of gas and some more water, I was determined to the hit the finish line and ride under the RedBull arch. 

 

They warned us the day before that the first and last 20 miles are a shit show, due to being washed out from the rain storms. I didn't think the first 20 were all that bad, the last 20 damn near killed me. It was 20 miles of 1st gear riding through a damn boulder field. I had to stop, look at the rocks and plan a route through them, and it was still pitch black during this. I finally made it through without falling, and met my wife and friend at the finish line. I was so exhausted they had to help me off the bike. I couldn't even take my gear off, they had to do it for me. I was told that I was the last bike on the course, not another bike was left out there. When Casey Folks handed me that finishers pin and congratulated me, I started to tear up, because I now knew I had done what most thought was impossible. I had just finished the longest off road race in the US. I finished 4th in class out of 14 riders (only 4 finished), 73rd for the bikes, quads, UTVs out 126 (only 73 finished). The next bike in front of me finished nearly 7 hours early.

Thank you for taking the time to write and share your experience. You're a good writer, and for that I thank you as well. You made it an easy and pleasant read from start to finish. I enjoyed living vicariously ;)

Congrats on your finish!

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I just bought a bike from a guy who was gonna race with you out there, but he broke his shoulder jumping motocross.  The first thought he had was, "Oh no I can't do Vegas to Reno!!!"

 

Racing this event would be a blast, but I live in TX and no one here is familiar with desert racing.  I raced desert in Cali, so I know what I would be up against.  Doing the Ironman thing would be a killer accomplishment.  Awesome job.

 

I live in Michigan and I thought all the trails in Michigan are sand, i'll know how to ride. I was wrong. Nothing, literally NOTHING can prepare you for what the southwest terrain of this country is like. November 2013 I went to Mexico with Baja Bound Adventures and we did a couple days of pre running the Baja 1000 course. That was a huge eye opener for me, and soon made me realize how I knew nothing about desert riding. I HIGHLY recommend getting with Baja Bound and doing a trip with them. Tim Morton who runs it can teach you more than you ever thought about desert riding, and for not much of the cost at all (all depends on how many days you wanna do). Had I not done that, I doubt I ever would have come close to finishing this race  

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I live in Michigan and I thought all the trails in Michigan are sand, i'll know how to ride. I was wrong. Nothing, literally NOTHING can prepare you for what the southwest terrain of this country is like. November 2013 I went to Mexico with Baja Bound Adventures and we did a couple days of pre running the Baja 1000 course. That was a huge eye opener for me, and soon made me realize how I knew nothing about desert riding. I HIGHLY recommend getting with Baja Bound and doing a trip with them. Tim Morton who runs it can teach you more than you ever thought about desert riding, and for not much of the cost at all (all depends on how many days you wanna do). Had I not done that, I doubt I ever would have come close to finishing this race  

 

Tell me about your bike setup.  I just bought a CR 500 AF to setup for motocross, and that's the bike I would ride if I were to make the trip to the West Coast and race Vegas to Reno.  Here's the obvious stuff I would have to do:

  • Suspension revalved/resprung for desert
  • 3.0 gal tank or larger
  • Steering stabilizer (I already have)
  • Bib mousses
  • Tires--what tires did you run??
  • Extra wheel set for the pit so I can have a fresh set of rubber
  • Radiator guards (I already have them)
  • Hand guards (I already have them)
  • Extra air filters for each pit

Damn, this would cost A LOT!!!  Before even pulling up to the starting line, it would be several thousand bucks.  But what an experience. 

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Tell me about your bike setup.  I just bought a CR 500 AF to setup for motocross, and that's the bike I would ride if I were to make the trip to the West Coast and race Vegas to Reno.  Here's the obvious stuff I would have to do:

  • Suspension revalved/resprung for desert
  • 3.0 gal tank or larger
  • Steering stabilizer (I already have)
  • Bib mousses
  • Tires--what tires did you run??
  • Extra wheel set for the pit so I can have a fresh set of rubber
  • Radiator guards (I already have them)
  • Hand guards (I already have them)
  • Extra air filters for each pit

Damn, this would cost A LOT!!!  Before even pulling up to the starting line, it would be several thousand bucks.  But what an experience. 

 

I also ran the Baja Designs Squadron lighting, that was awesome for the night ride. Here's the list that JCR Honda sent me. They also use a CRF450R cylinder head and 02 R cam. I skipped both of those and kept my motor stock. I skipped the WC plugs since that's just for show. Mousse Bibs are AMAZING! I don't know how many flats I would have had if I was running tube tires. Only downside is at night in the silt, the front tire gets cold and feels like you have a constant flat. My chase crew had a spare set of wheels ready to go in the truck the whole time, but I never used them and I never even had to open my tool kit while riding. Air filters, I was introduced to something new. Run an OEM oiled up air filter. On top of that run an OEM air filter, non oiled, no rubber trim around it, and shove it on over the wing nut. this acts as your pre filter. Every few hundred miles my buddy Jeff would pull the pre filter off and slap a new one on, all while never having to change the oiled filter. 

JCR race bike aftermarket components

 

Acerbis hand guards

Acerbis skid plate

AME hand grips

Bib Mousse airless tire inserts F & R

BRP frictionless chain guide

BRP top clamp and bar clamp

DID ERV 3 X-Ring chain: link-less

Hinson billet clutch cover

IMS 3.2 gallon tank for dry break

IMS dry break

IMS stainless footpegs

Pro Circuit works suspension

Pro Circuit T4 race exhaust system

Radiator cap 1:8 pressure

Dunlop 739AT 110/100-18

Renthal Sprockets Front & rear

Renthal Twin Wall 996 bars

Scott's steering damper + post

JCR Smog block kit (when using stock cyl head)

JCR engine vent kit

SRP billet start button

Works Connection plugs, brake cover & clamp

Works Connection Elite Clutch Perch

Garmin Foretrex 401 GPS- used for speedometer

Edited by RyGuy85
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Total bike cost was about $11,000. I bought the bike new in 2013 from a dealer for $6600, then put the rest into the accessories. I didn't want to risk the bike failing because I cheaped out on building it up 

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Gotta say all this is pretty dang inspirational to me. You did it, no wishing you did, etc. Your crew was pretty awesome too! Good job man.

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Gotta say all this is pretty dang inspirational to me. You did it, no wishing you did, etc. Your crew was pretty awesome too! Good job man.

And I never want to do it as an Ironman again lol. I may do the race again someday, but definitely do it with a team instead.

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Haha... the part about tripping out was funny. Glad you made it. I don't blame ya one bit, but that is pretty incredible to finish with all the possible things to go bad, especially solo. You can hold your head high! But team it next time, would be another story and lots of fun to share.

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Haha... the part about tripping out was funny. Glad you made it. I don't blame ya one bit, but that is pretty incredible to finish with all the possible things to go bad, especially solo. You can hold your head high! But team it next time, would be another story and lots of fun to share.

I determined that after the race the sounds I kept hearing were likely my bike echoing off the canyon walls. Still scared the shit out of me lol

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